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Probe of Szendrei homicide looking at other unsolved cases

Students embrace outside Burnsview Secondary School as they gather for a meeting to be updated on the death of 15-year-old Laura Szendrei, who attended the school, in Delta, B.C., on Monday September 27, 2010.

Darryl Dyck/ The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck/ The Canadian Press

As police search for the killer of 15-year-old Laura Szendrei, they are looking at other cases in the region, including a pair of unsolved attacks on two women in the same part of Delta.

While members of the police department in the community of Delta, about 20 kilometres southwest of Vancouver, have yet to link the two unsolved cases to the homicide, they say they are keeping an open mind about the possibility that all of the cases may be linked.

"We're not in a position to discount any possibility at this point," Sergeant Sharlene Brooks of the Delta Police force said in an interview Tuesday.

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"We are reviewing our files, and that is part of our investigation."

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said the police chief has said he sees no links between the two attacks and the death of Ms. Szendrei, but that police have said they are not ruling anything out.

Ms. Szendrei, found at about 1:30 p.m. in Delta's Mackie Park, died early Sunday in hospital with her family present. Police have said they do not know if the attack on Ms. Szendrei, which has stunned residents of Delta, was random or targeted.

No cause of death has been released in the case.

They have said they are looking for a man, aged 16 to 25, seen in the area about 15 minutes before Ms. Szendrei was found because they believe he may have information helpful to the case.

Both of the previous attacks remain unsolved.

On May 24 just before midnight, a woman walking on a pathway heard someone behind her and was struck with an unknown object. The victim made her way home and called police. There was no description of the attacker.

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On June 7, in the afternoon, a woman was jogging when she heard "heavy footsteps" approaching from behind and she was struck on the head with an unknown object. She saw a man running in the opposite direction after the attack, which left her with what a police release described as a "minor" physical injury.

Sgt. Brooks noted that Delta police are not limiting their review to cases in Delta.

"We're reviewing files both in our jurisdiction and outside our jurisdiction to see if there are any ongoing investigations that may be similar in nature," she said.

One of those is the case of Wendy Ladner-Beaudry, who was slain in April, 2009, while jogging in Pacific Spirit Park near the University of British Columbia.

Officials said Tuesday they have been mindful of the similarities in the death of Ms. Szendrei and 53-year-old Ms. Ladner-Beaudry, but see nothing, so far, to link the two cases.

Dale Carr, spokesman for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team handling the case, said IHIT investigators working on the Ladner-Beaudry case have spoken with Delta detectives regarding the case of Ms. Szendrei.

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IHIT deals with homicides throughout the region, but does not cover Delta, which has its own homicide unit as part of its police force.

Both sides are aware of the general similarities, including female victims being attacked in parks in the day.

"However, there's nothing to suggest, at this time, that the two instances are linked other than those general similarities," he said.

IHIT members on the Ladner-Beaudry case released a YouTube video months ago that generated about 7,500 hits, leading to some tips that police are following up. They are also working through a list of 270 persons of interest - individuals, including known offenders and others, who fit profiles developed by specialists.

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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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